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Atatiana Jefferson's Family Seeks Answers Following Shooting Death By Fort Worth Officer

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The police officer who killed 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson inside her Fort Worth home while responding to a welfare check early Saturday morning "didn't have time to perceive a threat" before opening fire, the family's attorney said.

"You didn't hear the officer shout, 'Gun, gun, gun,'" Lee Merritt said after viewing the officer's bodycam video. "He didn't have time to perceive a threat. That's murder."

Jefferson was watching her 8-year-old nephew when she was shot through a window and killed around 2:30 a.m. Oct. 12.

Atatiana Jefferson
Atatiana Jefferson (courtesy: Lee Merritt)

The Fort Worth Police Department said in a statement that officers saw someone near a window inside the home, and that one of them drew his weapon and fired after "perceiving a threat."

The video released by FWPD shows two officers searching the home from the outside with flashlights before one shouts, "Put your hands up, show me your hands." The officer does not identify himself as police in the video.

WATCH: Fort Worth Police Officer Shoots, Kills Woman Inside Her Own Home

"It's another one of those situations where the people that are supposed to protect us are actually not here to protect us," Jefferson's sister, Amber Carr, said. "You know, you want to see justice, but justice don't bring my sister back."

Jefferson's aunt, Venitta Body, said the family is struggling to understand why Jefferson was killed.

"It's like from the moment we got the call, it's been more and more inconceivable and more confusing. And there has nothing been done in order to take away that confusion," Body said.

Police said the officer — who has been on the force since April 2018 — is on administrative leave pending an investigation. His name has not been released.

James Smith, the concerned neighbor who called the non-emergency number, told CBS 11 that he was just trying to be a good neighbor.

"I'm shaken. I'm mad. I'm upset. And I feel it's partly my fault," Smith said. "If I had never dialed the police department, she'd still be alive."

Smith said Jefferson and her nephew typically lived with an older woman, who's been in the hospital.

"It makes you not want to call the police department," he said.

Merritt said Jefferson's family expects "a thorough and expedient investigation."

The Fort Worth Police Officers Association has since released the following statement in part:

Any loss of life is tragic, but the reported circumstances surrounding this incident are heartbreaking. We join with the citizens of Fort Worth in mourning the death of one of our young community members. We are urging the Fort Worth Police Department to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation, and through that investigation we hope to gain clarity and understanding of what exactly transpired.

The shooting comes less than two weeks after former Dallas police officer Amber Guyger was sentenced to 10 years in prison after being convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of her neighbor Botham Jean inside his own apartment.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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